This Sunday at Silverstone (UK), at the first round of the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), Porsche begins its mission to defend the title. The season’s highlight, the Le Mans 24-Hours in June, is the third round of the WEC. The Porsche 919 Hybrid, with its innovative powertrain concept, consisting of a downsizing two-litre V4 turbocharged petrol engine and two different energy recovery systems, has been significantly developed for even more efficiency. Although the 2016 regulations stipulate an eight per cent lower fuel consumption, the 919 almost equalled its lap times from the previous year at the official WEC Prologue in Le Castellet. For the six-hour race on the demanding Silverstone Formula One circuit, the prototype has got aerodynamically optimized body work for high downforce in the fast corners.
“In Silverstone our title defence begins,” said Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1. “Whatever the actual race result is, the 919 Hybrid must prove it is competitive enough to win races. This has to be our target and, after intense testing, we are confident of achieving that.”
The 260 strong Porsche Team led by Enzinger and Team Principal Andreas Seidl tackles the third consecutive season with the same driver line-up. As the reigning World Champions, Timo Bernhard (DE), Brendon Hartley (NZ) and Mark Webber (AU) have the number 1 on their car. Teammates Romain Dumas (FR), Neel Jani (CH) and Marc Lieb (DE) share the number 2 sister car.
“We feel well prepared and will carry forward the confidence from the end of last year,” commented Hartley. “Silverstone is a track that every driver in the pit lane loves. It has a bit of everything, but most importantly it has some really quick stuff made for the brave hearted. We tested our high downforce package at the prologue and I am sure we will have big smiles through Copse, Maggots and Beckets. Last year our car took pole and Mark led for the first hour before we had an issue. This year our goal has to be to stand on the top step, but we expect a tough fight.”
Team Principal Andreas Seidl: “We have kept the car’s concept and thanks to this stability were able to develop the 919 in detail. Weight reduction and performance improvement from various components have made the 919 even more efficient. Suspension and aero development have meant better handling. For the first time we have a high downforce aero package in place for Silverstone circuit’s fast corners. In the previous years we had no resources to do that, because we focussed so much on Le Mans. Since the 2015 WEC finale in November we have covered almost 23,000 kilometres of testing with the 919 in different specifications. It was partly endurance and partly performance testing. Also as a team we have improved over the winter. We are ready for the new season and excited to see were we stand compared to our competition.”